Sunday, September 10, 2006

What the Other Half Thinks

In skimming through one of the English language textbooks at my high school, I found this lovely little piece about American culture, written as an introduction for Indonesian students studying there. Without further ado, "Tips For Newcomers to the U.S.A.":
  • Americans are very friendly and helpful.

  • They don't make you feel like a foreigner (though you feel!!!)

  • It's very easy to adjust with them. But they don't like people getting inquisitive or trying to get too personal in the initial phase of the acquaintance.

  • They dress casually and nobody bothers which dress you wear, etc.

  • They are fun-loving creatures and enjoy their free time. They look forward to weekends and plan their weekend activities in advance.

  • They are frank about their opinions.

  • They respect individual views and allow everyone to speak their own ideas on a subject.

  • They have a lot of patience. Especially when standing in line or while driving, nobody will try to jump before you in line. Most of them are very disciplined drivers. However this differs from State to State.

  • If they happen to come in your way or you happen to come in theirs, you will promptly hear an "Excuse me."

  • They need a lot of feedback while talking. You have to acknowledge/nod continuously. Otherwise they feel you are not interested in listening or are confused.

  • They gesure a lot and shoot some funny (or so it seems initially) phrases at you. It's a matter of "getting used to it."

  • They are very "proud" of their country. For them the universe is the United States. So never ever make fun or speak lightly about them or tell them they do not have any social/cultural background. You will not make more American friends that way.

  • Rhode Island is neither a road nor an island.
Discuss amongst yourselves.


alea said...

Personally, I feel a bit like a puppy when called a "fun-loving creature".

Also, it should actually state "nobody (apart from the socially conscious upper class, the teenaged population, or the catty gays) bothers which dress you wear."

Tolkien Boy said...

Can you really say gays are "catty?" Hmmm.

I just wanted to point out that no one drives well in Utah, so I'm glad that they put in the caveat.

Petra said...

Alea: A puppy, huh? I felt like an otter.

TB: You just think they drive poorly. You should see Indonesian roads.

Questions for dicussion: Why the quotation marks on "proud"? Are we really so insecure in terms of feedback? And I was going to ask whether everyone enjoys their free time, until I remembered an article I read in the Wall Street Journal about how some Korean companies have started giving their workers Saturday off, and how both workers and their wives are pissed off about it. Apparently, the workers don't like having to find hobbies, and the wives don't like having their husbands around that extra day.

Th. said...


Hey! It's me!

Melyngoch said...

Reads like a personal ad.

steve said...

"They need a lot of feedback while talking. You have to acknowledge/nod continuously. Otherwise they feel you are not interested in listening or are confused."

Reading this, I now understand my American self much better. I find myself practically begging my classes to acknowledge simple questions like "do you understand?" with some sort of nodding or shaking their heads. it usually ends me doing doing exaggerated head-nods to get couple laughs, but not much else. Laughs are what I'm here for, right?

steve said...

today my fellow teachers showed me this same lesson and asked me to judge how accurate it is. they didn't get much of an answer, but for the next two weeks I'm going to be explaining American culture in 40 minute segments, over and over again. Hope my teachers don't notice me changing my answers just to keep myself entertained.

Master Fob said...

WTF?! Then why the hell is it called Rhode Island?